In the tiny town of Castleton, Vt. sits a small college with a little white building that’s home to a petite sky blue office that belongs to a big man with an even larger heart. Director of Community Service and Internships Chrispin White not only has a heart for his friends, family, students and co-workers, but also for his surrounding community.
A typical day for White includes countless meetings with students to help them gain experience in the community, meetings with community partners such as schools and non-profit organizations, meetings with faculty members to incorporate community service into their courses, sending out countless emails and planning service events.
And he does it all with a smile on his face.
“It’s wonderful when you see a student who’s not quite sure what they want to do and you connect them with an experience in the community and that light goes on,” he said. “They’re excited about their potential in a certain area. That’s very rewarding for me.”
He loves interacting with students and helping them to build their future. One student, Maria Burt, is a second-year social work and sociology student working toward her Civic Engagement Certificate and calls White her mentor.
“Chrispin is an indispensable person,” Burt said. “No matter what, Chrispin always has a smile on his face; and it’s contagious. I always feel better about whatever it is I am doing when I leave a meeting with him.”
White described his job as more than just an office job, saying he gets to constantly interact with others and help encourage many people, which he considers fun and his community service.
In 2010, the Vermont Campus Compact awarded White with the Campus Leadership for Civic Engagement Award. In the announcement, they praised White for his efforts to improve the community.
“With his steady hand and strong but gentle way, he has helped the College progress considerably toward their goal of becoming a campus where civic engagement opportunities are ubiquitous,” Vermont Campus Compact officials wrote.
Anyone who knows White knows how helpful he is and how positive he is. His positivity stems from his childhood growing up in Newport News, Va. The positivity comes in part from his father, Grady, and though he worked often, White said he still taught him the best advice: “Don’t worry about things you can’t control.”
White was extremely close with his mother, Ida, and his two older brothers, Elvis and Ledell. He fondly remembers going to Ocean View Amusement Park with them, going to Buckrowe and Virginia Beaches and playing sports with his brothers.
Growing up, White was a total sports junkie, but basketball was always his favorite and became the reason he came to Castleton.
Janice Rousse, then the athletic department’s administrative assistant and now his co-worker, recruited White to play. She was the first person he met on campus when he arrived and she recalled her first encounter with him.
This large young man walked up to her outside of Glenbrook Gym and she said, “Are you Chrispin?”
“Yes I am,” he replied.
“Well are you sure you’re at the right school because we don’t have football here,” Rousse said.
He knew he was in the right place and began his college basketball career. White remembers ending the season 14-13 under Coach Jim Caziano. However, that changed to a 26-2 record White’s sophomore year under Stan Van Gundy, who went on to coach the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic.
Rousee may have been the first person he met here, but the second was Renee Beaupre White, now his wife. What began as a friendship walking into Adams Hall, quickly grew into a relationship.
Together, they have three sons, 16-year-old Sam, and 13-year-old twins, Alex and Noah. It’s clear from the pictures plastered all over White’s office that his family is very close, similar to how he grew up. One thing he said is different, though; White is determined to spend time with his kids in all their activities.
White is involved in his sons’ sports, whether it’s coaching, videotaping, watching or just driving them to football, soccer or basketball practice.
“My life is a taxi driver,” White said.
White originally had plans to move to Boston after college, but he decided to stay in Poultney, Vt. to raise a family.
“It’s a great place to have a family and further my dreams and my career,” he said.
Living in Vermont, there’s not much diversity and though they are an interracial couple, White and his wife both say they used to get looks when they first started dating, but they don’t let it bother them.
As they walked down a Rutland street one day, some guy yelled, “Go back to here you came from!” to White. Though Renee got upset, White’s positivity once again shone through.
“It’s his ignorance, it’s not me,” he said. “He doesn’t know me.”
That positivity is what Renee, along with many others around campus, said describes White’s personality perfectly.
“Chrispin is just always upbeat,” she said. “His glass is always half full, which I just love. He’s just incredibly positive.”